The Irish have invaded Portland. Between Artists Rep’s The Playboy of the Western World, Corrib’s forthcoming The Hen Night Epiphany and this Third Rail production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, you could spend an entire weekend fooling yourself you’re on the Emerald Isle. Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen takes us to a small stone cottage in County Galway, where we meet Mag (Jayne Taini), an old crone who lurks like Jabba the Hutt in her rocking chair and delights in pouring the contents of her chamber pot down the kitchen sink. She shares the home with her 40-year-old daughter Maureen (Maureen Porter), and the two keep each other trapped in an endless spin cycle of mutual torment. Mothers and daughters the world over have tumultuous relationships, but most don’t gleefully gab about decapitating the other. It’s scabrous and tragic and hilarious, and Taini and Porter imbue their rapport with a malevolence that’s born of desperate loneliness—and a touch of outright looniness. When a local man (played by Damon Kupper with warmth and humor) strikes up a romance with Maureen, it tips things with Mag into the danger zone. With Beauty Queen, Third Rail completes McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy, and that familiarity shows in Scott Yarbrough’s confident direction. The performers, too, are at ease with the distinctive, Gaelic-influenced syntactical patter, and their characters feel lived-in. Taini brings just enough sorrow and fear to the role of Mag, while Porter manifests those emotions more subtly: She keeps her hands in loose fists, curled awkwardly toward her waist, and her eyes shift from weariness to menace to confusion. “I’ll never die!” hollers Mag at one point, and you almost—almost—wish that could be the truth.
SEE IT: The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 235-1101. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays through June 22. $20-$43.